Dublin-Kerry rivalry will come again says Ogie Moran
By Michael Devlin
A record like Denis ‘Ogie’ Moran’s is not supposed to be bettered, or even equalled.
Eight All-Ireland medals sit in his home in Tralee. He is one of only five players in the history of Gaelic football to have that many, his company four other Kerry team-mates from the golden era of the 1970s and ‘80s of course - Páidí Ó Sé, Ger Power, Mikey Sheehy and Pat Spillane.
Moran himself holds a more unique record though. He stands alone as the only player to win his eight medals playing in the same position each final and playing every single minute of all eight games. The remarkable feat was pointed out as Moran’s career was celebrated at Croke Park today with induction into the GAA Museum Hall of Fame.
“I'm very honoured and privileged to be considered for this. I certainly wasn't expecting it. But I'm deeply humbled, deeply honoured and absolutely delighted.”
Aside from the swashbuckling success, Moran’s team are also remembered for their unsuccessful ‘five-in-a-row’ bid, foiled famously by Offaly in 1982. Before them, Wexford (1915-1919) and Kerry (1929-1933) both fell at the fifth. Four days ago though, Dublin walked into that great unknown with victory over the Kingdom.
Ten of that squad have now won all seven Celtic Crosses since 2011 - Stephen Cluxton, Philly McMahon, Cian O’Sullivan, James McCarthy, Kevin McManamon, Bernard Brogan, Michael Fitzsimons, Darren Daly, Michael Darragh MacAuley and Eoghan O’Gara. There’s every possibility that some of those could yet pull level with Moran on eight.
“I can’t do anything about that I think!” laughs Moran when asked about Dublin’s chasing pack. “Just have to suck it up!”
Moran says he didn’t think too much about Dublin achieving what Kerry couldn’t 37 years before, but he acknowledged that Jim Gavin’s men will now be talked about alongside that great Kerry side in conversations about the greatest Gaelic football team of all time.
“Fair play to them, it’s not easy to do that. It’s a massive achievement not to have lost a game since 2014, and some of the players there have never lost. [Cluxton] has been there for such a long time, and the midfield is fantastic. [Fenton] has a fantastic record, to have never lost a championship game. There are some great players up front as well. They are a very compete team, they are great athletes, very disciplined, great to react on the spot to the situation they are in.
“In our era we were probably the prominent team, and now they are the prominent team. You get it in golf and rugby. When I was young, Wales were very dominant in rugby, you have JPR Williams and Barry John and Gareth Edwards, and they were thee team at the time, you know? You get it in all sports, and this Dublin team are fantastic, they are having their day in the sun and they are well entitled to it.”
Comparing the teams though is a fruitless exercise best left to the high stools says Moran, touching on the vast differences in Gaelic football between then and now.
“It’s very hard to judge it. It’s good pub talk. It’s just impossible to compare a team, there’s 40 years of difference. The games have changed so much, there is a running game now, a possession game. We probably stayed in our own parts of the field and there was a lot more kicking. You fought for your own ball and you were marking one guy, you either beat him or he beat you.
“Now it’s much more scientific, much more thought goes into it, much more preparation goes into it. In our time there was no such thing as video analysis. Kevin Heffernan, he was a one-man band Mick O’Dwyer was a one-man band, so it’s just a different game.”
Disappointment would have been keenly felt in the Moran house this week, with Ogie’s son David licking his wounds after Saturday evening’s defeat. Moran junior put in some monumental performances at midfield for Kerry this season that exemplified his considerable experience in the county jersey, having made his Championship debut back in 2008 against Cork.
The majority of the current Kerry team though are fledglings at senior inter-county level, and the extent to which they have acquitted themselves at the top level so early in their careers has filled Moran and many other Kerry supporters with abundant hope for the years ahead. However, all the minor success doesn’t always automatically translate to senior he warned, to which his own underage career testifies.
“You take the team I was on, take Páidí Ó Sé, myself, Mikey Sheehy. We never won a minor medal. We lost three Munsters. I don’t have any minor medal, not even a Munster medal never mind an All-Ireland minor medal. Then we won three U21’s, so it doesn’t always follow as logically as you might think it would.
“But I think this year we’ve got some very good forwards. David Clifford is exceptional and Stephen O’Brien and Seán O’Shea, they’re very, very talented young men and hopefully they’ll have their day in the sun but you know, you have to win the ones you are in. But they lost to the best team in the country and there’s no shame in that.
“They played their hearts out and the people can’t fault them. They just came up short in the end. But I think there will hopefully be brighter days for a lot of them in the future.”
Moran can see a ‘Kerry-Dublin Mk II’ rivalry forming between the current teams, akin to the original that he enjoyed with the great teams of old. A fiercely competitive rivalry on the field of play of course, but a mutual bond off it too.
“I think it's great. We had some great friendships with the Dubs of the ‘70s. I see it now with the two Brogans, their mum is from Listowel, they're often down in Listowel so we meet them down there.
“There's a lot of Kerry connections, Cian O'Sullivan's dad is from Killorglin, Brian Fenton's dad is from Spa in Killarney. There'll be plenty of friendships when things settle down and they come down to the Listowel Races on their holidays in Kerry, they'll build those friendships. They’re lifetime friendships.”